Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy new year!

Bacchanalia, pseudonyms, conscriptions, intrigues, and epicures...

All are components of a hearty send off to the dying year.

I wish all of you the best, in this, the best of all possible worlds.

Love, understanding, and peace.

In that order.

From all of us at CarpeTrutta, to all of you, wishing you well in the coming year.

Shaun, Diana, Jake, Mitzi, Natasha, and Elbert.


Monday, November 21, 2011


     At one point or another, most of us have a good idea.

    Sometimes we are motivated to take action, but often we are not.

    Several years ago, a small piece of information fell into my lap. It seemed there was a confluence of factors, a convergence of variables... a relic of a past glacial epoch together in tandem with a misguided engineering technique... a gamble that an exotic benthic macro-invertebrate could lend its deliriously ravening surplus to the cause of growing some big goddamned trout. It did not happen as they planned, but... something happened. Magic is hard to control.

     I sat on it, and did not investigate it further. My bad. Procrastination is a theme in my life.

     Today, I got off my cognitive toadstool and went out to see what might be seen. An eighth of a mile and four hundred and fifty vertical feet later, I saw what there was to see. 

     The triumvirate of tailwaters has a little sister. 

     Really, I should have gone years ago.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

And speaking of jerkbaits...

Here is a Smithwick Rogue that I repainted. There is a little overspray, but it is getting better. I am still using opaque Createx airbrush paint, and am starting to achieve the layering effects that I am after. My suspicion is that once I switch to transparents I will be getting some sick results. I always have clung to the notion that there is merit to doing something the hard way first, then getting lazy about it later.

Top view. Note several changes from the stock bait; first I sanded out the scale texture that the bait comes stock with. I also removed the bill prior to painting, as I like that better than masking the bill against overspray. I always like to tinker, so I made another bill, slightly larger, out of Lexan. I may have to round round the corners to get the sort of "flashing" jerks I am after, but we will see. I think it will dive deeper with the larger bill, and be more snag resistant. In addition, a steady grind on this bait should give a more pronounced side to side wobble. Also, I put inexpensive, thin gauge wire split rings that open at about ten pounds of pressure, as a fairly good way of getting the bait back should the hook snag. I use Gamakatsu EWG trebles on every small hardbait that I own. Alas, they only come in 2, 4 and 6. I would give my front teeth for an 8. This is, in my honest opinion, the best hook ever made for crankbaits, jerkbaits, and topwaters. Treble hooks are notorious for getting thrown by fish, but this hook stays buttoned the majority of the time. Plus, in the event that a fish steals the bait, the bronze rusts very quickly, allowing the fish to reject the bait and survive. 

I got a heat gun to help with the bubbles in the epoxy, and it works like a champ. In the past I used the same hair dryer that I used to heat-set the layers of paint, but it pushes too much air and has the unfortunate tendency to make the epoxy sag. Tisk tisk. The heat gun is MUCH hotter, and spits air out with a lot less force, so I can just hit the finish very quickly where there is a bubble, like a half second, and the bubbles pop instantly, without effecting the distribution of the topcoat. On this bait I used 30 minute Bob Smith Industries epoxy, thinned with denatured alcohol, as per the recommendation of Crankin101 from the Colorado Fisherman forum. Thanks for the tip! I have gone through so many different topcoats... I'm still looking for my "perfect" system, but this worked pretty well.

Here is the paint schedule:
  • Coat entire bait with an opaque hard white base coat
  • Shoot top of bait with a solid coat of chartreuse, allowing some to cover sides to lateral line area
  • Mask with scale netting, shoot pink stripe down the top, letting some chartreuse show on side
  • Shoot lavender over the pink, again letting some of the layer underneath show at sides
  • Remove scale netting, and shoot head with chartreuse in a heavy coat
  • Shoot pearl red on the cheeks and throat, allowing the chart to show on the top, back and sides of head
  • Add shad spot if you want. Be careful of overspray, I messed up my spots pretty good on this bait
  • Add eyes. I hand painted them with a tiny brush, but you can mask and shoot if you want.
  • Topcoat with the epoxy of your liking, turn bait if needed to prevent topcoat sagging till cured.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

For the love of 'eyes

   I never was a fan of the walleye. I grew up without them. By the time (at age 14) my deranged and misbegotten “family” dragged me to Colorado, I was already somewhat opposed to bait fishing, and was not really keeping fish for the most part. My best bass days were behind me, and the inshore trinity (redfish, flounder, and speckled trout) was no longer even a distant possibility. I was not stoked.
   After living here for a while, I got into the habit of catching stocker trout at Lake Loveland on blobs of floating pink play-dough. To this day nothing says “Colorado” to me more than the smell of that stuff. I would ride my bike over there, catch slimers with catfish methods, and wish I was somewhere else. 
   I hate to tell walleye guys this, but the first walleye I ever caught was a double digit trophy. 
   I was fishing the inlet at Lake Loveland during the major drawdown some years ago, and it was snowing sideways. I was freezing my ass off because the evil Colorado snow had come upon me with a suddenness that my thin wind breaker left me unprepared to deal with. The only thing that was keeping me alive was the motion of casting. I was tossing a small silver spoon on an ultralight spinning rod spooled with four pound test, hoping for stockers. The spoon was an item which (I had recently learned) was locally popular, called a “Kastmaster.”
   I got a wind knot in the line and was forced to allow the spoon to sink to the bottom as I picked at the snarl. The line was hopeless, so I broke it off at the knot and started to gather the line that was in the water by hand, hoping I would not lose the Kastmaster. As I was thinking this I felt the line grow tight and cursed my luck. But there was yield to the snag, and I found I could move it slowly. So I kept hand-winding the line back, wondering what I was snagged on. I got it about two yards from the bank where waves caused by the gale were crashing into the sandy shore where I stood, and felt movement on the line. I was really puzzled now, as there was definitely something alive on the other end. 
   I gingerly dragged the last few feet of line in, and saw two enormous, bulging, glowing eyes the size of golfballs. I knew what a walleye looked like, but I had never seen one in person prior to that moment. The waves pushed it onto the shore, and it lay there on the wet sand, with its body in a stiff arc, unmoving, mouth agape. I was dumbstruck. The fish was an absolute giant, and it gave every appearance of being paralyzed. It looked ridiculous, its awesome fangs showing as if it was frozen in mid-scream, the tiny spoon dangling from the corner of its jaw. I had no idea what to make of it.
   I reached down and grasped the fish by the tail, feeling the strange sandpaper texture of walleye skin for the first time. I remembered hearing that walleye were very good to eat, and I wanted to show off this bizarre creature, so I decided to keep it. I had no stringer to keep it on, so I hit it on the head with my pliers to kill it, even though I was not sure how alive it was to begin with. It quivered momentarily, the most I had seen it move, and relaxed its body into death.
   There was a large orange newspaper bag laying under the footbridge at the inlet, so I wrapped the fish in the bag to keep it from being dried out, and as I was freezing, I huddled with it under the bridge, like a soggy and confused troll, waiting for my ride home. 
   The walleye weighed fourteen pounds, and was several inches longer than my skateboard, which was itself thirty-two inches. 
   Honestly, it did not taste that good, though it did make two meals for the six of us. 
   Hindsight being what it is, I should have let the fish go. I did not know that this was a very large specimen of a walleye, and how lucky it was for me to catch it in the first place. I assumed there were lots more around like it. It is still the biggest walleye of my life. I didn’t even get a picture of it. 
   So there is the framework of my first experience with the species. My overall impression was that they did not move when hooked, and did not taste as good as was widely claimed. 
   I was, in short, not a fan.
   Fast forward twenty years, and I am really growing fond of the critters. I now understand that the appeal of the fish is with the fact that they are fussy and often hard to tempt, and that they are in fact excellent table fare, in smaller sizes. I have come full circle on killing fish. I don’t kill even one percent of the fish I catch, but when I do kill fish they are almost all walleye. I would not dream of killing a trophy, and the biggest ‘eye I would keep would be four pounds or less. But I enjoy catching them. I like to finesse fish, and finesse tactics translate perfectly to walleye. 

     They are teaching me how to fish with jerkbaits, something I was never very good at. 

A limit of solid keepers, courtesy of my beloved Aurora Reservoir

And did I mention they are tasty?


Thursday, October 27, 2011

On Cognition

   Who does not desperately cling to the notion that there is, if not benevolence, then at least ambivalence, in the workings of the fates? Show me a person that is indifferent to their destiny and I will show you one who is either enlightened or insane.

   The possibility that the states of enlightenment and insanity are co-mingled has, to my mind, never been properly refuted. That is not to say that I recon they are intertwined out of necessity, nor do I believe that coincidence mandates a causal interconnectedness. But on matters of our individual consciousness(es) there is little concrete understanding and much wearisome dogma. I do not comprehend what it is that constitutes an individual intellect, and I am dubious –contemptuous, even– of those that profess such knowledge. Still, knowledge is fruit borne of a tree which is by inquisition fortified. I do not begrudge examination of the issue. I merely disdain those that arrive at their destination without first making the voyage. For my part, a deep innate laziness allows me to be convinced only of my ignorance.

   I am tormented by fish. I am drawn out of myself by fish. I am pleased and rewarded and edified and damned by fish. Fish are my muse, my prison guard, my confidant, my companion, my ruin. I am held hostage by their watery visage, their alien grace, their solem and mute testimony. Why? Why? Why? If I may myself not answer this simple question, who may perchance offer a solution? I hate them at times, the way that we do all the things we love. But out of the deepness of my affinity comes a rage and contempt that would be impossible to conjure for a less beloved thing. I desire to possess them all, at last, and to gain the thing that eludes me. That thing is... nothing. And everything.

   I mentioned in a post this spring that I set goals for my angling. I am abandoning that practice. There is only one way that I can arrive at the end of this madness, and I am not yet eager for it. I am Sisyphus applying my shoulder to the rock. It should be enough that I have the rock to apply myself to. Many lack even that.

   My stated objectives in the entry dealing with my goals for this solar cycle were to catch a lake trout, a wiper, and a tiger muskie. I was able to capture an admirable specimen of both the hybrid and the lake trout in rapid time and with little effort. It was looking very much like it would be the first time in years I would meet my goals. And then a funny thing happened on the way to statistics.

   I quit caring.

   Not that it would not please me to catch a big gorgeous tiger muskie, but I just lost interest in chasing some arbitrary accomplishment when I might actually prefer to go bass fishing or to toss Stimmies at brook trout. And what of it? I may not know why I am addicted to angling, but I do know that I do not enjoy my fishing when it becomes obligate.

   I quit fishing competitive events because I did not relish the sensation of being held accountable to anything tangible, the other competitors, luck, the quantity in standardized measurements of fish-flesh that I could bring in a bag to the stage.

   Five alive, what a pointless objective.

   But then, aren't they all?


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Foiled and painted

Just a quick update on the status of my home-brew swimbaits...

There is an individual in Georgia (I love this, I lived in Marietta, GA for a while) that is interested in the bait. For what it is worth, this guy is getting the first swimbait I have ever produced for the public.

He wants a "Bone" patterned bait.

Bone, for the layperson, is a bait without paint. It is the natural white color of the plastic that is used by manufacturers for injection molded baits, and, as such, needs no paint. Therefore, it is a mild affront to my sensibilities that anyone would prefer a "bone" pattern to my own interpretation of a shad or a herring.

I think I will get over it...

In the mean time, here is another bait that I have foiled and painted...

Another view...

I am starting to have a good time with this...


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Photo Essay

   I have avoided the Dream Stream this fall due to the incredible amounts of ass-hats that populate the river in the autumn of the year. The sight of every parking lot filled to capacity, trash lining the banks, dead and dying fish, and roving gangs of knuckle dragging mouth breathers sporting neopreme camo waders (two sizes too small,) mesh trucker hats, Ugly Sticks and blank expresionless stares, or the fancy pants thirtysomethings with "Orvis Endorsed Guide" stickers on their Land Rovers, smoking cigars and acting like they own the place, stomping up and down the bank, putting down a fish that you just managed to get set up on after a five or ten minute stalk, yeah, pretty much fuck that noise. I will go if and when the weather sucks.

   One the other hand, it is a little known and often overlooked fact that not every trout in Colorado lives in the South Platte river. There are several reservoirs in the state, and many of these have tributaries. Some of the reservoirs with tributaries are also inhabited by brown trout, and well, we won't know if we don't go, will we?

Fear the Jew-Fro


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Makin' baits

You folks know by now that I like to build lures. I like to tie flies, I like to dig worms. I like to fish.

But this summer has been all about bass fishing and bass lure making for me. I am quite content when I am able to sit at my desk and saw, hack, whittle, carve, mask, trim, and paint some new thing or other. Most of the time they turn out to be ho-hum also ran's that while being on the whole adequate, are nothing special.

You may or may not recall a few months (eons?) back I posted a tutorial for building swimbait blanks. That project, while it showed potential, was shelved as I waited in vain to hear back from a gentleman in the great state of California. This fellow was to have applied his considerable talent to the finishwork of my bait blanks. Though I am not a complete amateur in the arts of painting, I though it best to leave that element of the construction to a qualified professional.

I sent him two of my baits.

That was this spring.

I have been unable to reach him since then.

I dislike this most keenly.

Therefore, I resolved to finish the baits that I had left at my disposal in the way that best suited my purposes. Lacking the skill to apply an acceptable photofinish (for the moment) I used my airbrush and my paintbrush to do the finishwork.

That was a week ago, and I could not be more pleased with the results. I made an initial bait for personal use, and sprayed it with sparr varnish, being thinner and more susceptible to damage than epoxy. Why would I desire such a property in a finish? I like baits that are scarred and damaged from usage. These are the proven items that I reach for time and again. The thin finish afforded by the varnish, appart from being fast and easy, provides just such an effect.

You folks remember these baits, right?

Here is one with paint!

Here is another. This one is going out into the world for beta-testing.

Here is an experiment (quite successful) with embossing a scale pattern.

And here is the proof. A rather large Denver largemouth bass, on my bait.

Hmmm... What will I call it?


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hey Kids-

Hola amigos. Been a while since I last rapped at ya. No, I am not going to attempt to justify my love, but let it be known that Jim Anchower has nothing on me. I am a feral cat that moves in the night. I am the stealthy meter reader that knows when the dogs are napping. I am the repo man that puts the hooks on your '63 Impala without a second thought. I am that guy that puts that thing under the windsheild wiper of your car, and when you come out, you are all like "Goddamnit, I hate it when they do this!"

I am the Walrus, goo goo g'joob.

Appart from being a walrus, I am also a tackle building fool.

I love to concoct some stupid rig or other and go out and use it to stick some bass.

As such, I give you the "Ghetto Punch," a sad little concoction that I am sure will get you more and bigger bass, when the bass are in the grass. Hurray! Punch gear is stupid expensive, hook $1-3, 1 oz tungsten weight $7-14, a punch skirt like $4 from Paycheck Baits, plus whatever trailer you stick on there... we are talking $20+ in terminal! Horrid!

Build it yourself, save some money, buy more beer.

The Denny Brauer Flippin' hook by Mustad. Use a flat non-serated plier to 
mash down the little barbs on the shank by the eye...

Like so.

Put that darn hook in a vice, and start some thread. 

Get a piece of Singlestrand leader, and bend it like so...

Wrap that lil' piece o' leader onto the hook shank.

Like dis. 

Whip finish with yer Matarelli whip finisher. A cheaper device will 
gum up the whole works, use that Italian number, or else. 

Cover the thread with some sort of Cyanoacrylate...
(AKA Super Glue)

This is what you are looking for... The big gnarly barb will hold the plastic trailer IN PLACE, 
which is what the tiny puny factory barbs are supposed to do, but they never work, do they?

A "Florida" rig sinker, this one is by Bullet Weight. 
Get a big-assed sinker, you are fishing tha grass foo'. 

A silicone skirt, this one is a green pumpkin /black flake by Do-It molds...

Screw that weight into that skirt...

Secure with stainless steel wire found at Hobby Lobby type places...

Twist it tight, tighter, oh God, that's it, like that, oooohhhh....

Cut the wire off about a 1/4" from the skirt material and fold it back...

Now you can remove that useless little rubber band thingy...

And trim the skirt ends even.

Like so... do this with all jigs and spinnerbaits and the skirt 
will last ten times as long before getting frayed. Thanks War Eagle. 

In P-Line we trust... look closely, and you will see a mouse foetus in bug-balm...
What the hell is wrong with that?

Put a "bobber stop" on your line...


It will keep the lead/skirt from sliding around willie-nillie...

Tie on the hook you built at the start, and add the trailer of your choice. 
Here we are using a Reaction Innovations "Smallie Beaver" 
in "Green-pumpkin/Watermelon." 
Slide the bobber stop down the line. It will hold the sinker/skirt against the hook and trailer.

Dang that looks nice!

But does it catch fish?

Yep, it does.